WARNING: The following article contains spoilers for Powers of X #6, by Jonathan Hickman, R.B. Silva, Pepe Larraz, Marte Gracia, David Curiel, VC's Clayton Cowles and Tom Muller, on sale now.
After Jonathan Hickman, R.B. Silva and Pepe Larraz's interconnected series House of X and Powers of X recently made startling changes to the X-Men's world. Even though those stories made massive revelations about longtime characters like Moira MacTaggert and even Professor X that drew on the franchise's decades-old history, the X-Men might not be done with massive changes.
Powers of X #6 features a "Foreshadow" variant cover by Giuseppe Camuncoli portrays the X-Men's Sunspot sitting on a throne as the Imperial Guard bows at his feet. Very few elements from the image were built up in Powers of X itself, but the cover still hints at a surprising turn of elements for the immediate future of the X-Men.
On a surface level, the image apparently conveys an alliance between the X-Men and the Shi'ar. The relationship between the mutants and the intergalactic empire has always been somewhat tumultuous, and Powers of X reiterated how much Xavier leaned on their advance technology to build major parts of the House of X.
From the the Danger Room to the Blackbird and the X-Mansion itself, there has almost always been some degree of Shi'ar tech in the X-Men's operations, but there has been little to show that the relationship is two-sided. With the Imperial Guard bowing at Sunspot's feet, it may be clear that the X-Men don't need to give anything in return -- the X-Men can just demand it.
As part of the Dawn of X relaunch, Jonathan Hickman, Ed Brisson anf Rod Reis will be taking New Mutants into space. A teaser for the upcoming series already showed Sunspot standing apart from the rest of his teammates, although it's not clear how that will set him up to seemingly take command of the Imperial Guard.
Still, Hickman's tenure on Avengers and New Avengers already saw Sunspot's ascension from being the carefree playboy he traditionally was as a member of the New Mutants and X-Force to leading his own Avengers squad with the major economic force of his corporation. The same era saw a heavy emphasis on intergalactic relations with the Imperial Guard at the forefront, and Sunspot's best friend Cannonball made that connection all the tighter.
As a fellow New Mutant, Cannonball and Sunspot were always close and had a long history of valued friendship. After they both joined the Avengers, Cannonball struck out on his own after falling in love with and marrying a member of the Imperial Guard, having a child with her, and semi-retiring from superheroics in space.
While the New Mutants' intergalactic adventures will almost certainly take them to Cannonball, it's still now clear how that could lead to Sunspot's quick ascension.
As the leader of the Imperial Guard, and even a past Emperor of the Shi'ar Empire, the Superman-esque Gladiator doesn't just bow to anyone, and he would be a powerful ally for the X-Men to have on their side, even if he didn't come with an entire team of other superheroes armed with insanely advanced technology.
If this is teasing a new alliance between mutants and the Shi'ar, it would suggest that there are no limits to Xavier's current plans. This could take the X-Men into the stars, where they could expand their budding nation, Krakoa, and become an intergalactic force that could take on the Phalanx. With their portals to Krakoa already reaching off the planet, it's clear that this foothold in space began even before the variant cover debuted.
While this scene seems to promise gargantuan changes to the state of the cosmic Marvel Universe, there's no telling what may actually happen in the story itself until New Mutants kicks off next month.
New Mutants #1, by Hickman, Brisson and Reis, is set to be released on Nov. 6, 2019.